OAK HILL – George Sweetman must follow the crabs.

This year, they lure him to the shallows surrounding NASA's Kennedy Space Center, where the beginnings of a blue crab revival crawl inside his steel traps.

But a plan to phase out his trade from these remote waters could claw back a recent turnaround in the fortunes of Sweetman and others who fish the Mosquito Lagoon — the northernmost section of the Indian River Lagoon — killing off their unique heritage.

"Why now are we being thrown out?" asks Sweetman, 69, who's fished here 20 years. "I don't see we're a threat. We make a living. I don't get it. We do no harm."

But the feds say he and others who fish commercially must go because they clash with the government's conservation mission.

In 2018, the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge and Canaveral National Seashore plan to phase out commercial fishing, and it's uncertain where those who sell their catches will be allowed to fish on the federal property.

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